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Solar Powered Kiln?


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#21 missholly

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 07:32 AM

great! thanks!


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#22 Stellaria

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 07:55 PM

I figured my end goal would be building a wood-fired kiln once I got off-grid. Nothing else is actually "sustainable" as you'll always be reliant on an outside fuel source. However, I never did consider solar, as solar systems are rarely actually long-term sustainable. Too much expensive maintenance needed, and you'd need to shell out an insane amount to power anything with heating elements.



#23 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 08:52 AM

Look up Experimental Solar Kilns and Firing with Sunlight, old articles from Studio Potter Magazine.

 

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#24 Stellaria

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 09:55 PM

Hey, whaddaya know.... This month's featured potter on the Standard Clay website powers her kilns from solar-generated electricity. http://standardceramic.com

Edited to add: she *does* have her array tied into the grid, and uses the credit system. So none of her solar-generated electricity is stored in batteries.

#25 Doulla

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 01:43 PM

I have solar panels on my house to produce electricity. The excess of which goes into the grid and we get paid for this by the electricity company/government. I always try to run my kiln on a sunny day to reduce the cost as much as possible. My small kiln which is 13kw can run entirely from the solar electricity if it is a nice sunny day.



#26 Steve.n

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 02:14 AM

Hi Everyone, new to the forum.

 

I live in Queensland, Australia and also have solar panels which typically generate around 2kw - 3kw per hour for about 6 hours per day. The kiln I'm interested in buying is listed as being 2.8kw and 10amps. Are there any electric buffs here who can demystify how much energy this means?  i.e. I don't understand the amps and how this effects the power consumed.

 

Thanks. Steve



#27 JBaymore

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 02:50 PM

Watts is Amps times Volts.  A kilowatt is 1000 Watts of power.  Consuming 1 Kilowatt for one hour is one Kilowatt Hour.

 

You can expend 1 Kilowatt of power by having 12 volts of "electrical pressure" and about 83.3 Amps of electrical current flow.  You can get the same 1 Kilowatt consumption/dissipation by using about 4.5 Amps of flow with 220 Volts.

 

There are quite a few people these days that have solar arrays powering their electric kilns.... BUT... their installations are usually set up to generate power for a large energy consuming house.... not just for the kilns.  So the investment costs are recouped because of the HOUSE... not the kilns.

 

You'd have to do the payback analysis for a pure kiln installation.  The less often you fire that kiln.... the more the investment cost is a hinderance to getting a payback on that investment.

 

 

As Marcia mentioned... Studio Potter magazine did a lot of stuff on energy back during the last "energy crisis" period during the Carter Administration (when we put in out solar roof collectors and attached solar greenhouse).

 

best,

 

...............john


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#28 Tyler Miller

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 03:44 PM

 

 

There are quite a few people these days that have solar arrays powering their electric kilns.... BUT... their installations are usually set up to generate power for a large energy consuming house.... not just for the kilns.  So the investment costs are recouped because of the HOUSE... not the kilns.

 

 

 

 

John, it's literally impossible to power a kiln with a solar electric array.

 

A 5.7 cu ft. (9.6 kW) would blow the inverter of a system (8 kW) that would cost upwards of $20K to build.  This system would only be able to produce 4 kWH per day.  But that's only by the numbers on paper.  Solar arrays do not have the power behind them to produce heat of any kind--it damages the inverter and battery rack.  I'm building an off grid cabin in Northern Ontario and I can't even use a conventional gas dryer or stove when using solar because of the electrical ignition components.  Heating of any kind is beyond the capability of any available home solar options.

 

At this stage, the technology is such that solar power cannot generate heat of any kind without some sort of on-grid auxiliary in place for those heating systems.  That is to say, the on-grid system is what's used to supply electricity to create heat.  Solar power can only provided lighting and power electronics.  



#29 JBaymore

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 04:25 PM

Guess it is all in how you define the concept:

 

http://blog.nceca.net/solar-powered-pottery-kilns

 

http://leemiddleman....august-19-2008/

 

http://www.australianceramics.com/jy07/harrison.html


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#30 Tyler Miller

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 05:01 PM

John,

 

With all due respect to the noble spirit of their endeavouring toward sustainability, I'm not entirely sure it's honest or accurate to say that selling electricity to offset the cost and power usage of their own operations is powering kilns with solar energy.  Offsetting your own use is a great thing, as is the extra income power generation provides, but it's not powering a kiln with solar.  Link two there, while doing some welding and cutting in the manufacture of gas and electric kilns, uses a wood fired kiln.  



#31 JBaymore

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 05:14 PM

Guess it is all in how you define the concept:


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#32 High Bridge Pottery

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 05:45 PM

Could you make a better inverter? One out of kiln wire  :D

 

Maybe you could run a kiln on 12v with lots of time and super insulation.


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#33 TJR

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 07:56 PM

Elon Musk-designer of the Tesla electric car and owner od Solar city Solar Panels, and also owner of Space X, is now selling a unit for $3,000-$3500 dollars U.S. that will store power from solar cells. You no longer need inverters and batteries. It's all in one unit as big as a furnace. Great for off grid living. I believe I saw it in this month's issue of Popular Mechanics.

I'll get back to you.

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#34 Mark C.

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 08:27 PM

Elon Musk-designer of the Tesla electric car and owner od Solar city Solar Panels, and also owner of Space X, is now selling a unit for $3,000-$3500 dollars U.S. that will store power from solar cells. You no longer need inverters and batteries. It's all in one unit as big as a furnace. Great for off grid living. I believe I saw it in this month's issue of Popular Mechanics.

I'll get back to you.

TJR.

Thes units power some buildings in SF area-but I think its lighting and such. So you spend 15-30 k for soar panels then you add one of these cheap 3,500 units to store the power.I have always been a believer that electrictity is a poor heat source unless its near net zero cost.

The other exception is you have your own hydro on property.

Mark

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#35 bciskepottery

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 08:41 PM

Elon Musk-designer of the Tesla electric car and owner od Solar city Solar Panels, and also owner of Space X, is now selling a unit for $3,000-$3500 dollars U.S. that will store power from solar cells. You no longer need inverters and batteries. It's all in one unit as big as a furnace. Great for off grid living. I believe I saw it in this month's issue of Popular Mechanics.
I'll get back to you.
TJR.


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#36 curt

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 01:48 AM

I think sun and solar panels must work differently down her in the Southern Hemisphere (for sure the water spins differently!).

I have a 5 kilowatt solar system with a 5 kilowatt inverter that generates around 30 kilowatt hours per day in summer (sunshine for about 6 hours). My system generates about 20 amps at peak sun during the middle of the day.

Now, I am no electrician, but I tend to agree with J Baymore's point that if I did not inconveniently have a house hooked up to that solar system, I could certainly run my 15 amp single phase kiln with power to spare, but only for a few hours when the sun was shining brightly. If I installed another similar sized system alongside the first, I could probably run that kiln for 6 or 7 hours a day, but when the sun went down....game over. Industry may fire that fast, but I cannot....

However, i am lucky because like others here, for a monthly fee I have access to a giant battery called The Grid, to which I am connected. Essentially, I trade some of my spare power to the power plant down the street during the day (meaning they burn a little less coal), and in return they give me back a bit of power at night when i need it and my panels are twiddling their thumbs waiting for sunrise. Works out well for everyone involved.

Cost of all this? In Australia a system like mine can be had installed for about $8000 AUD ( call it $6000 to $7000 USD).

Bottom line for me is that it is possible to run a kiln off of solar panels, but only for a short time each day, unless you are connected to the grid and arrange "power sharing agreements" with the local power plant.

#37 neilestrick

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 12:42 PM

Tyler, I agree that you can't run a kiln from solar power. They don't work in a closed system. John, I also agree with you. Solar can create enough power to run a kiln, but it must be tied into the grid in order to use it.


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#38 JBaymore

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 12:50 PM

Solar can create enough power to run a kiln, but it must be tied into the grid in order to use it.

 

Guess it is all in how you define the concept:

 

;)


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#39 Benzine

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 07:10 PM

I just power my kiln with a flux capacitor.  It works well enough, but after the firing, my pots are gone, and I see them later in history books.


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#40 curt

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 10:45 PM

Tyler, I agree that you can't run a kiln from solar power. They don't work in a closed system. John, I also agree with you. Solar can create enough power to run a kiln, but it must be tied into the grid in order to use it.

 Neil, could you elaborate briefly on what you mean by "closed system"? 

 

I don't think there is any technical reason that would prevent someone running a kiln only off of solar panels.  If you had enough panels to run the kiln (see my earlier comment on this above), and could fire in four or five hours, on a sunny day you could get the job done. 

 

And there are even a few tricks you could play to cheat those constraints.  If your kiln (and the pots in it) had sufficient thermal mass to retain some of its heat overnight, you could effectively "preheat" the kiln the day before to get a headstart for the actual firing day.  How well this trick would work would depend on all the variables already mentioned including solar system size, kiln electricity requirements, kiln insulation thickness and type, kiln firing cycle, etc.

 

Another workaround for many kilns would be to simply reduce the power going to the elements.  Many electric kilns have a dial on them somewhere which (while most of us never mess with it) allows us to regulate the amount of power going to the kiln elements.   It is almost always set on "high" to get maximum power because we are all connected to the grid and getting all the power we want anytime is not a problem.  However, this dial can also be turned down to put less power through the elements.  So for instance if I didn't want my 20 amp rated kiln to draw 20 amps when switching on and off to heat the elements, I could turn that dial down to say, 10 amps.  The downside is that the elements will need to be on a lot longer at any given point in the firing to hit the right temperatures, and at the top of the firing even when they are on 100% of the time you may still not get enough power to the elements to hit the necessary temperatures for your firing cycle.  Again, this will depend on other variables in your system like kiln size, load density, insulation, etc..  Also not sure this is ideal for your element life, but a kiln technician may have a view on this?

 

Finally, in the near future (five year?), the kinds of household batteries which Tesla, Enphase, SMA and other are bringing to the mass market will make it completely feasible to run a kiln off grid.  You will be able to turn on your kiln in the evening and run it off batteries for the first part of your firing.  By the time you enter the high-energy part of the firing cycle the next morning, your house batteries are spent, but the sun is rising and your kiln starts to lean on the power generated by the solar panels themselves to get to temperature and finish off the firing (note to self: do not run washing machine or space heater at this time :rolleyes:

 

The $64K question is: how much will it cost?  If household batteries follow the same trajectory as solar panels, their prices will drop rapidly from here (thanks Elon!).   Tesla's new house battery is $3500 for 7 kilowatt hours (kwh) of daily use and guaranteed for 10 years (oh, and you will also need an inverter unless you get a new solar system where one inverter serves both batteries and panels).  Seven kwh of available electricity overnight is probably not quite enough at the moment for the aspiring off-grid electric kiln user, but it is not that far short.  Back of the envelope says that a 20 amp, single phase kiln that is on for one hour would use 240v x 20 amps = 4800 watts (or 4.8 kw) per hour.  That means your 7 kwh battery is dead in about an hour and a half (realistically probably even sooner than that).   However, since your elements are only powered up for brief intervals in the early part of most firings, you would probably stretch the battery charge out much longer than this.  Cut to the chase, based on what we know now (early days in the battery story) I would probably want a 20kwh battery if I was running a kiln plus some other light household stuff (frig overnight, etc.). 

 

Finally, let me just say this whole topic is not academic, at least not to me.  I have a potter friend who I am helping to get a household solar system now.  For various reasons my friend will likely go off grid sometime in the next five years and we have needed to make sure that her single phase 20 amp klln would still work even off grid.  Through lengthy discussions with the electricians we know that it will definitely work from a technical perspective right now today.  However, like the CEO of Solar Cities said about the Tesla batteries, it does not - at the moment - make sense economically.  






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